By Tina Alvey
A big weekend for military veterans is planned for Rainelle, as the ninth annual West Virginia Veterans’ Reunion begins Thursday, just as an expected 400 Run for the Wall motorcycles arrive in town.
Run for the Wall (RFTW) is an annual pilgrimage by veterans, friends and family — many riding motorcycles — and all bound for Rolling Thunder’s “Ride for Freedom” in Washington, D.C., on May 26.
According to Duane Maxey, state coordinator for RFTW, the motorcycle-riding veterans will arrive in Rainelle at 12:15 p.m. Thursday. After parading through town, the veterans will stop at the new Rainelle Elementary School to reunite with the school children and community who, Maxey said, “mean so much to RFTW.”
This will mark the 25th year RFTW will make a stop in the tiny western Greenbrier County town.
Following lunch, a presentation and memorial ceremony will be conducted at the school, beginning at around 2 p.m.
The veterans’ reunion, organized by L.Z. Rainelle, will continue throughout the weekend, with Thursday’s events including a dinner at the Rainelle Moose Lodge, and paintings of local deceased veterans will be on display at the Rainelle Public Library starting at 3:30 p.m.
Friday will begin with breakfast at VFW Post 4484, followed by presentations of awards to Rainelle Elementary School art and essay contest winners, while the Event Center will host exhibits of “Bringing Home the Wall” and “The Quilt of Tears.” The two exhibits will be open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Sunday and from 8 a.m. until noon on Memorial Day.
Veterans are encouraged to take a scenic ride to the Meadow Bridge Memorial and Midland Trail High School and then enjoy a reception at the school at 11 a.m. Friday. A visit with residents at Heartland of Rainelle is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.
A moving candlelight memorial service will commence at 8:30 p.m. at VFW Memorial Park.
Saturday’s breakfast will be at the Rainelle Moose Lodge, followed by a parade. Line-up begins at 11 a.m. in Industrial Park, and the parade will step off at noon.
The Boatmen will provide music on the Town Hall Stage from 1 to 2 p.m., after which the activities switch venues to the Event Center, site of speakers, entertainment and a roundtable discussion.
The day’s festivities will wrap up with music by Charlie Absten & Distant Thunder on the Town Hall Stage from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., concluding with an aerial fireworks display at 9:30.
The Rev. John Steer will lead a community worship service at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Event Center, and a gospel sing will get under way on the Town Hall Stage starting at 1 p.m.
— E-mail: email@example.com